Sunday, May 27, 2007

Reflection: Death is Like Thief in the Night

I'm back in my home, lying on my bed, trying to comprehend what just happened.

I still remember about two weeks ago, at about 4 am, when the phone rang and I felt a queasy jolt in my stomach. My husband answered the phone and I could hear my mom sobbing and telling us that our dear dad had just passed away. "Oh God," I said to myself. It's the call I've never wanted to receive. I remember letting out a cry of denial and pain. I didn't know what to do or where to go. I wanted to just hug my papa's remains and whisper in his ear how much I loved him but I can't because I'm thousand of miles away.

We immediately proceeded to pack and get a flight to Manila. In the plane, tears continued to roll gently on my face. I remembered the airplane flights we took as a family to trips abroad and how he would assure us that we have nothing to fear when there was turbulence because he would protect us. I looked out the window and it was all darkness and stillness. I wondered whether my papa was out there in the cold dark abyss with no one to care for him? I drowned my sadness by sleeping.

I was awakened by the serving of brunch. But I didn't have any appetite. After our meal, I looked out the window again. It was dusk - the sky was softly lit with muted tints of early sunrise reminding me of rebirth. Then the sun slowly inched its way in the sky, rendering the soft, billowy clouds with a majestic glow of warm hues, this time reminding me of new hope.

Somehow my papa was consoling me to not despair because he is in paradise - the ethereal backdrop of the resplendent skies was nothing compared to where he is right now. A faint smile grazed my face at that sweet notion.

I saw my dad's casket for the first time and there laid his lifeless body with eyes serenely shut. I used to be afraid of dead bodies, but I didn't have any fear when I gazed upon my papa's resting countenance. He had a peaceful look in his face with an enigmatic Monalisa-like smile which seemed to remind us that he has been freed of his worldly cares and has gone to a better place. Papa looked majestic in his intricately sewn native barong shirt. He was holding rosaries and prayer cards on both hands.

I couldn't help but continue to sob and cry at the same time. I wanted papa to hear my regret that I was not able to say good-bye to him. Most of all, I wanted him to know how much I loved, cared, and respected him. I slowly lifted a portion of the transparent sheath covering our dear papa. I was not afraid - I lovingly put my palm on his chest, to physically bid him good-bye for the last time, even if it was a little too late. I wanted him to breathe and show life even for a moment, to acknowledge my presence. It was wishful thinking that perhaps he was only sleeping and resting because his medications made him weak. But this time there was no sign of life ever coming back, even of life faintly fighting back, just as dad did for so long.

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